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Officials: Bronx anti-gun violence activist arrested for drugs, illegal guns

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NEW YORK — A nearly two-year investigation into a drug operation in the Hudson Valley led to 15 people being charged, including a Bronx community activist who works to prevent gun violence in high-risk areas.

“In the early stages of this investigation, the Narcotics Unit realized this had tentacles that reached well beyond the borders of Middletown,” Middletown Police Chief John Ewanciw said.

Officials in Orange County say after months of investigating a suspected drug dealer in Middletown, their investigation led them to someone miles away.

“The investigation ultimately uncovered Jelly’s main supplier Michael Rodriguez of Yonkers,” announced Chief Ewanciw.

Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler says through court-authorized eavesdropping into Angelica Rodriguez’s phone, they began investigating 48-year-old Michael Rodriguez. On Wednesday, police arrested him after they say they found 1.5 kilograms of cocaine, $165,000 in cash, scales, two guns and $50,000 worth of jewelry in his Yonkers home.

“It’s especially concerning that someone involved in the program down in Yonkers and the Bronx area appeared to be the main supplier of narcotics up here in Middletown,” said Joseph Destefano, the mayor of Middletown.

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That program is called Bronx Rises Against Gun Violence, also known as B.R.A.G. In early July, CBS New York interviewed Rodriguez about the increase in youth gun violence in the Bronx and how its program works to decrease incidents through community building and one-on-one training. Rodriguez gave CBS New York a tour of the office and showed us how the group operates.

“So the very guy that we have that’s supposed to be stopping gun violence in one jurisdiction in New York City is poisoning our jurisdiction up here,” Hoovler said.

Rodriguez is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree, two counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, and conspiracy in the second degree. He is being held without bail in the Orange County Jail.

Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said, “The allegations of drug trafficking and gun possession against Michael Rodriguez are shocking and disturbing, especially since he has attended anti-violence events and peace marches portraying himself as someone who cares about stopping the violence in our community. These charges are the exact opposite of the good work cure violence groups are doing.”

CBS New York reached out to Bronx Rises Against Gun Violence about the arrest, and we’re still waiting to hear back.

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Source: CBS

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